There are usually a couple of days each year that you go out to play a tennis match and everything works well—your movement is great, your shots feel solid and your strategy is working to perfection. When you play a match on any other day, it is important to learn how to compete so that you give yourself a chance to win the match even though things are not happening easily.
Start with knowing your strengths and weaknesses.
If you have a good serve and a good forehand, try to use those shots as much as possible to get your opponent in trouble. Remember that everything starts with the serve, and return of serve. If you make more first serves and more return of serves than your opponent, you will have a great chance of winning the match. Even if you are struggling with your regular forehand and backhand groundstrokes, your serve and return can keep you in the match.
Keep your idea after the serve and return simple: hit three or four balls in a row (usually crosscourt or to the open court) on as many points as possible. Run after every single ball and expect the ball to come back! When things go wrong, regroup and play the next point the best you can by using the ideas I just stated.
Finally, never, ever, give up! If you are having doubts about your game, ask yourself, "what would Rafa do?" The answer is summed up in his recent quote after playing Sebastian Korda, and being down two breaks in the third set during a match at Indian Wells:
"I know that if I try as hard as I can, I have a 10 percent chance of winning the match. If I don't try, I have a zero percent chance-I choose to try.”
Congratulations to Taylor Fritz, by the way…
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com in East Hampton, NY . Steve is also a tennis professional at Ventana Golf and Country Club in Tucson, AZ. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org